Hardik Pandya, T20 World Cup 2021
Hardik Pandya (Image Credit: Twitter)

In place of the usual opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, Indian management and skipper Hardik Pandya sent Deepak Hooda to open their innings alongside Ishan Kishan as they started their pursuit of 109 at the opening T20I match against Ireland in Malahide.

When the game was reduced to 12 overs each side due to rain, it appeared to be a tactical choice to favour the Hooda, who scores more freely. Gaikwad, however, subsequently admitted that he didn’t bat because of a calf ache. 

Hardik Pandya Made Sure To Not Take Any Chances With Ruturaj Gaikwad

Ruturaj Gaikwad
Ruturaj Gaikwad. (Photo: BCCI)

In his post-game news conference, India captain Hardik Pandya stated that Rutu “had a niggle in his calf.” 

“We had the choice of taking a risk and sending him in [to open], but I was not okay with it. A player’s well-being is more important, and [I thought] we’ll be able to manage what happens in the match. 

“It was quite simple after that, there wasn’t much of a decision to make; whatever our [batting-order] numbers were, we all went up one spot, and it wasn’t a big headache. We wanted to make sure we weren’t taking any chances with Rutu.” 

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After sitting on the bench for the whole recently finished five-match T20I series against Ireland, Hooda’s opportunity to open proved to be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate his abilities. As India easily won by seven wickets with 16 balls remaining, Hooda top-scored for them with an unbeaten 47 from 29 balls. 

Hardik Pandya Backs Umran Malik

Umran Malik (Image Credits: Twitter)
Umran Malik (Image Credits: Twitter)

Not just Hooda, but other South African series outcasts also received a chance. Between the coin toss and the postponed start of the game, there was a lot of hype about Umran Malik receiving his maiden India cap. In the end, though, he was only able to bowl one over in the truncated match and handed Ireland’s leading scorer Harry Tector a four and a six. 

The appearance was too brief to make any conclusions, but Hardik Pandya had words of support for the fast bowler. 

“When you play for India for the first time, and the journey he has taken, it’s important to give such a bowler and such a talent time,” he said.  

“Whether it was a good day or a bad day is irrelevant. For him, just to play for India is itself a very big thing, and that is something which I’m very happy for, [irrespective] of how the result went, good or bad, it’s okay. 

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“It’s part and parcel of the game, but at the same point of time, from here he’ll only get better, the more matches he plays, and it’s a big thing for him to play for India, for anyone to play for India. I want to let him enjoy this moment because it doesn’t come every time. A debut happens only once.” 

Hardik Pandya Impressed By Harry Tector

Harry Tector
Harry Tector (Image Credits: Twitter)

When questioned if Tector’s unbeaten 64 off 33 balls suggested that he would play in the IPL in the future, Hardik Pandya had kind words for him as well and even admitted that he had given him one of his bats.

“He played some fantastic shots, and obviously, he’s 22, I’ve given him a bat as well, so maybe he can score some more sixes and maybe get an IPL contract, and I wish him luck,” 

 Hardik said. “Just look after him well, give him the right guidance. It’s not always about cricket; it’s about understanding your whole lifestyle and what is at stake. If you can manage that, I’m sure he’s going to be around – not just in IPL, in all the leagues in the world.” 

Also Read: IRE vs IND: Hardik Pandya Becomes First Indian Captain To Pick A Wicket In T20 Internationals

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